The holidays cast a long shadow. Their still-clinging dark influence can make it difficult for one-time go-for-broke revelers to instantly reform into prim and healthy resolutionists.
In other words, going cold turkey on all-salad lunches might sound more like taking your medicine rather than enjoying your meal.
Well, how about going hot beef on salads instead? I'm talking about eating a salad with a swagger as a means to easing your way into "lighter" eating.
Specifically, I'm talking about digging into a Black and Bleu Caesar Salad ($14) at the Downtown Mitchell's Steakhouse. Because when relishing that knockout nooner, you can honestly say you really treated yourself while still insisting you only had salad for lunch.
Step inside this church of beef at lunchtime and Mitchell's is opulent yet cozy. Its enormous fixtures fix you with a sense of awe and ahhh. There's the glowing altar of liquor behind the stylish bar, the outsized non-figurative artworks, a huge mirror and dramatic plush velvety orange curtains that climb toward the huge cathedral ceiling.
Speaking of that super-high stunner of a ceiling, it needs to be seen to be believed. It's plastered with (mostly) myth-stirring, Romanesque bas-relief plant and animal forms. In fact, you could stare at it for hours. But don't, because you'll spill lunch all over your shirt.
Anyway, when your friendly tie-and-white-jacket-clad server brings the bread, I recommend you indulge just a bit. Along with whipped butter, you'll get a shiny, crackly crusted loaf of soft yet dense cracked-wheat sourdough that's definitely worth a little splurge.
Now for the Black and Bleu Caesar. As for the meat of the matter, its spicy, pepper-crusted five-or-so strips of head-shakingly good flatiron steak are about the elusive size of the oft-recommended "deck of cards" - but the taste is considerably more expansive. Gilding the lily is a swath of melting herb butter redolent of celery salt.
Beside the mmm-meat will be a full-sized meal salad, not one of those disappointing couple-of-biters.
This salad consists of fresh and crisp hearts of romaine dressed in a creamy, garlicky, lemony, anchovy-spiked dressing made even richer by dabs of blue cheese. Contributing to the lustily satisfying textures are small croutons that never saw the darkness of a cardboard box.
All in all, it's a vibrant and vivacious warm beef lunchtime salad enjoyed in a swanky place for a semi-reasonable amount of dough. And, believe me, that's a million times better than going cold turkey.